Thoughts on Conservatism

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Recently I had a conversation with a friend about the differences between living a few decades ago versus now. She admitted that she wished to live in a “simpler time, when people were more neighborly, when crime wasn’t rampant, and our environment was cleaner.” When I inquired when this time was she said the 1940’s or 50’s, when her grandparents were young. “Modern life is so complicated and stressful,” she explained, and “things were better back then.”

I pressed further, “Better for who?” I asked. “Do you really think that life was better in this country when people of color were forced to drink from separate water fountains? Do you really think that people were happier when a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence and cigarettes were good for you?” These were the days when parents would have ten kids because two or three were bound to die before reaching adulthood. I am ornery on these subjects, I will admit, but this is because I see this as a crucial stumbling block for the citizens of the United States.

I understand that, in any culture, there must be a balance between opposing forces, a yin and a yang and I will accept this. However, I also have to say that “Conservatism” to me seems to be a false notion, based on inaccurate assumptions and even outright lies.

Conservatism entails protecting and preserving elements of the past. Last time I checked, the clock ticks forward, not backwards. Why do so many people not understand the fundamentals of past, present, and future? This means that, eventually and after much foot dragging, conservatives will always eventually lose. Time marches on. The past is past.

Why would anyone choose the past over the future? Why not be a part of the solution, rather than fighting the inevitability of time and the changes it necessitates? We cannot go back in time. Find me a Conservative Republican who wants to give up airplane travel, modern medicine, or cable TV. People need to understand that we can’t pick and choose the parts of the future we want to accept and reject the rest.
The premise of contemporary conservatism is fundamentally flawed. It is based on the false notion that the past is somehow better than the present. It clings to the idea of proverbial “better days gone by” which negates and disdains the present. Most people accept this idea and don’t realize these better days never actually existed, except for a very small minority. Do conservatives really want to live in a time period where one person had more value than another because of physical features? Do conservatives really think that all people are safer when inequality between sexes and races is encouraged?

Sorry that I am ranting, but I just don’t get it. I watched Faux News today at the gym. Millions of people choose to watch this station. Why does such a large portion of the United States’ population choose to receive false news that promotes unnecessary fear? I think to answer this we need to look into and under Fox news – who owns it? Who benefits from it? Why do certain people want to maintain the status quo? Why do they want ordinary people to fear things which are not actually threatening?

Obviously our history has been marked with periods of innovation and progress, as well as times of back-sliding and regression. In periods where social progress, individual rights, economic equality, education, and scientific advances are made the masses win, but a few individuals lose. I don’t blame those who hold the keys to power and wealth for wanting to keep their control, but this is morally corrupt and the cause of society’s current problems.

Whether it is the church, government officials, or monopolizing business owners, certain forces want to keep us mired in the past. Certain people want us to be fearful and obedient citizens. These are the forces who start wars, who use their money to increase their own wealth, and refuse to recognize the benefits of a progressive society – even if such a society makes all people safer, more educated, employed, and healthy, themselves included.

These are the people who are hurling labels like “Socialism!” and “Fascism!” right now – even though the United States has benefited from socialized education, medicine, and social services for the last century or more. Why don’t ordinary citizens see these forces for what they are and refuse to be exploited and fear-mongered? Why don’t ordinary Americans stop worrying about what gays and lesbians do in their bedrooms and focus on serious issues of injustice in the world? Why don’t Conservatives stop worrying about aborted fetuses and focus on a “Pro Life” agenda that values people who are already born who are starving or being murdered all over the world?

Fear is the keystone of Conservatism. There, I said it. The future is scary. Fifty years ago, half of this country opposed the integration of races in schools, restaurants, and in marriages. This was obviously WRONG, just as it is today concerning gay marriage. Why would otherwise moral and good people choose injustice? Fear.

The voices distilling fear and regression in our country are to blame for much of the economic, social, and health epidemics we encounter today. As Conservative and Liberal citizens, we need to focus on the big issues, rather than being mired in emotional, political tangents. We need to take the power back from the liars who would prefer to live in the Dark Ages, also known as the past.

– Cara Ober

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